The Iron Man script was reportedly unfinished when principal photography began for the film, but despite this the screenplay has many memorable quotes, strong characters, and a great ending.
What can we learn from the Iron Man screenplay?
The Iron Man Script
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WHO WROTE THE Iron Man SCRIPT?
Written by Mark Furgus, Hawk Otsby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Mark Fergus and Hawk Otsby are best known for writing the script for Children of Men and are the creators of the Syfy series The Expanse.
Art Marcum and Matt Holloway are best known for writing Transformers: The Last Knight, Punisher: War Zone, and Men In Black: International.
The characters were developed decades before by Stan Lee and the team at Marvel Comics. It's important to mention this because so many of the characters that are featured in the script came from the original Iron Man comics.
The Iron Man PLOT
Story beats in the Iron Man script
Here is the story structure for the Iron Man screenplay:
Script Structure of iron man
1. EXPOSITION (BEGINNING)
The Iron Man script begins in a more exciting way with Tony and his security detail ambushed in the desert of Afghanistan. We get a flashback to an award ceremony where we learn about Tony Stark, Stark Industries, and how little Tony seems to care about his responsibilities.
2. INCIDITING INCIDENT
The Inciting Incident for the Iron Man script is an interesting one. Normally this would land around page 12-15, but Tony and Rhodes are simply discussing the trip to Afghanistan. The very first scene’s placement works a bit as the inciting incident, but when we return to it around page 30. It’s a clever way of keeping the viewer hooked with a longer script.
3. CLIMAX OF ACT ONE
The Iron Man screenplay is about 180 pages with a ton of omitted pages, so one could argue that the Act One climax would more accurately land somewhere around page 50 or 60. This means the climax of Act One is where Tony finishes the suit and escapes by force.
4. OBSTACLES (RISING ACTION)
Tony returns to America so he can turn over a new leaf. He decides to make Stark Industries sell something other than weapons and instead focus on Arc Reactors. The stock of the company plummets. Tony and Pepper share a moment that suggest romance. The Stark Industries board files an injunction against Tony as the CEO.
5. MIDPOINT (BIG TWIST)
The Midpoint of the script happens around the time where Tony goes to the Gala and learns that Obadiah is responsible for filing the injunction against Tony.
6. DISASTER & CRISIS
The evil militia is attacking villages and wiping out the communities. Tony takes his new Iron Man suit out and fights with the militia. At one point, Tony must elude the United States military on his return trip home.
7. CLIMAX OF ACT TWO
We not only learn that Obadiah is the one filing an injunction against Tony, but that he is the mastermind of Tony’s abduction at the beginning of the story. Obadiah receives the schematics for the Iron Man suit from Raza. He then ties up loose ends.
8. OBSTACLES (DESCENDING ACTION)
Rhodes is upset with Tony for his vigilante behavior. Pepper threatens to quit, but Tony convinces her to instead hack Stark Industries to find what they can on Obadiah. Then, Obadiah steals Tony’s Arc Reactor from his chest, leaving him to die.
9. CLIMAX OF ACT THREE
Tony and Obadiah battle it out in Iron Man suits at the Stark Industries headquarters. Rhodes and Pepper help Tony defeat Obadiah and the Dynamo.
Tony is giving a press conference where he’s given an alibi so he may avoid any uncomfortable and potentially incriminating questions. Right as he’s about to lie… he instead decides to reveal his super identity as Iron Man.
Iron Man Script Takeaway #1
Iron Man quotesIron Man quotes are some of the best from a superhero, specifically from a Marvel superhero. Many of the Iron Man quotes are so good it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Robert Downey Jr. delivering the lines.
Read the Iron Man I Don't Paint Scene
It’s true that the most memorable Iron Man quotes are quite simply Tony reacting sarcastically to comments made by the other characters, but they work well because we know Tony is a good guy deep down, and we know he’s an intelligent person which makes us listen a bit more.
Iron Man Quotes: Da Vinci Of Our Time
Here is a list of the great Iron Man quotes:
“The truth is…. I am Iron Man”
This quote has been erroneously reported as an ad-lib, but in fact this specific line was in the script. There was, however, a line that is very memorable from the actual film that you won’t find in the script.
“Let’s face it… this is not the worst thing you’ve caught me doing.”
Here are some more great Iron Man quotes:
“Absolutely ridiculous, I don’t paint.”
“Jarvis… sometimes you’ve got to run before you can walk.”
There is one quote that isn’t the best, but it may be one of the most important because it encapsulates the moral and ethical transformation of Tony Stark and his view on war profiteering.
“Really? You stood there by my side when all I did was reap the benefits of wholesale irresponsibility and destruction and now that I’m trying to right those wrongs and protect the people I put in harm's way you’re going to walk out on me.”
Iron Man Script Takeaway #2
Iron Man Characters
Iron Man characters in the script all have origins to the comics, but with some small differences. For instance, Obadiah Stane in the original comics owned his own weapons company before working alongside Howard Stark. He also has some weird origin details like baldness caused from the trauma of watching his father kill himself during a game of Russian Roulette, and the slaying of a fellow classmate’s dog so he could gain an advantage against the boy during a chess game.
Read the Iron Man Character Intro Scene
Rhodes and Pepper are both in the original story in the same general capacity, but the original comics were set during the Vietnam war and updated over time to the Persian Gulf war and eventually War on Terror.
Iron Man | Behind The Scenes
Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. is one character that is entirely made up for the film and has no connection to the original Iron Man comics.
Iron Man Script Takeaway #3
Iron Man Ending
So, despite the fact that the script was incomplete the ending of Iron Man is one of the most memorable in the MCU origin movies. Why is that? What is so great about the Iron Man ending?
Read the Iron Man Ending Scene
Tony not only breaks from the standard operating procedure by revealing his superhero identity. It’s funny how this was the first real film for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but yet seems unconventional.
Iron Man Ending Scene
Read and Download More Scripts
Iron Man is a perfect case study on how to start movie franchise the right way. If you want to read more great scripts, we have The Avengers, The Dark Knight and Thor: Ragnarok in our screenplay database. Great screenwriters read lots of scripts. Get started today!